Afghanistan: IOM Undocumented Afghan Returnees

In 2016, over a million Afghans who previously sought refuge in Pakistan and Iran returned to Afghanistan. Since the beginning of 2018, 700,056 undocumented Afghans have returned from both countries, due to diverse push factors including deteriorating protection space. The projecting for the year 2019 of undocumented Afghan returnees will be approx. 49,000 from Pakistan and 570,000 from Iran. The vast majority of them have lived outside of Afghanistan for decades, and are in dire need for humanitarian assistance, which they will receive through this project.

Country/region Topic Period Budget
Humanitarian Assistance & DRR
Protection, access & security
Forced displacement (refugees, IDP, human trafficking)
Material relief assistance
15.02.2019 - 31.12.2022
CHF  2’750’000

The number of Afghan returnees from Iran and Pakistan is difficult to predict since it is subject to political dynamics, varying acceptance by host countries as well as sensitive to economic developments. Over 700’056 undocumented Afghan migrants returned so far in the year 2018. 570’000 undocumented returnees were counted in 2017. In 2016 over a million Afghans who previously sought refuge in the neighbouring countries Pakistan and Iran returned to Afghanistan (including refugees).

While the majority of these returnees is almost entirely dependent on extended family networks and internationally funded assistance upon arrival, many are left with little choice but to occupy the vast and growing number of informal settlements which populate Afghanistan’s urban landscape. Under these circumstances and with limited access to essential protective services (health, education), exposure to protection risks are high. This is especially the case for groups with specific needs such as women, children, elderly people and persons with disabilities. IOM and UNHCR share the mandate for the protection of returnees: IOM for undocumented returnees, UNHCR for returnees with refugee status abroad.

Objectives The overall goal of this project is to reduce the vulnerability of undocumented Afghan returnees from Pakistan and Iran.
Target groups Undocumented Afghan returnees, and in particular the ones with special needs, like single females, unaccompanied migrant children, female-headed households, medical cases or victims of human rights violations or with disabilities.
Medium-term outcomes Emergency response for Afghan returnees from Pakistan and Iran is supported by the provision of a post arrival humanitarian assistance package.

Expected results:  

  • Identification, screening and registration of undocumented returnees with special needs
  • Transportation from the IOM screening center to the nearest IOM transit center
  • Provision of emergency post arrival assistance including health care at the transit center
  • Provision of cash for transportation and non-food items
  • Protection assistance such as family tracing, reunification, personalised escort, etc.

Results from previous phases:   Between October 2017 and 30 April 2018, through SDC’s contribution, IOM was able to reduce the vulnerability of 7,571 beneficiaries (3,652 Male and 3,919 Female), by the provision of post-arrival humanitarian assistance. Since the beginning of 2018 until the writing of this credit proposal, IOM has assisted 49’108 returnees from Pakistan and Iran with the overall contributions from the donors community.

Directorate/federal office responsible SDC
Credit area Humanitarian aid
Project partners Contract partner
United Nations Organization (UNO)
  • International Organisation for Migration

Other partners
South Korea, Japan, Canada, Czech Republic, Norway, Australia, the EU, Bulgaria, and Italy.
Coordination with other projects and actors IOM works in close coordination with the Government of Afghanistan, particularly the Displacement and Return Executive Committee (DiREC) and its main humanitarian partners including UNHCR, WFP and UNICEF.
Budget Current phase Swiss budget CHF    2’750’000 Swiss disbursement to date CHF    2’000’000 Total project since first phase Swiss budget CHF   1’700’000 Budget inclusive project partner CHF   4’450’000